Special driver, special car, special day. Yes, Kenny Bräck in a Ford GT40 in a race full of nothing but GT40s to mark 50 years since Ford’s first Le Mans win – it ticks all the boxes doesn’t it?
So is our favourite Indycar champ looking forward to the 74th Members’ Meeting on 19-20 March? It will actually be Kenny’s first MM race; he’s done most everything else at Goodwood of course and while last year he was at the Motor Circuit in March, it was behind the wheel of a McLaren F1 for ‘demonstration’ laps.
Let’s be honest, Kenny’s extraordinary talents aren’t best used on demo laps and this year they won’t be…
He’ll be driving one of the two prototype lightweight GT40s that Alan Mann Racing built for Ford early in 1966. With its aluminium body and roof it weighed, it is said, 150lb less than a GT40 MkII. Read more about Alan Mann Racing here
Prototype number two may not be a Le Mans winner (they were the heavier big-block cars) but it was raced in period by Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart and went on to become one of the most well known and successful privately campaigned GT40s of all, with wins in the UK, France, Austria, Germany and Holland.
Today the Lanzante-prepared car, now owned by Christian Gläsel who will be sharing the driving with Kenny at 74MM, is resplendent in the Alan Mann colours of red and gold. What you would expect of course: this special GT40-only race is for the Alan Mann Trophy in tribute to Alan and his unique role in developing one of the greatest sports racing cars of all time.
We caught up with Kenny at the first 74MM test day to hear his GT40 thoughts…
How well do you know the Ford GT40?
This is the third I have raced. So I have some experience with it but it is the first lightweight I have driven. We did the Spa 6-Hours with it a couple of years ago and got it on pole. The car was really developed for that race. The car has not been to Goodwood before, not least in modern times.
How did you find it on the circuit today?
I have done a handful of laps and it is going well. It was a bit wet and we were just trying to baseline the car really.
How does the Alan Mann lightweight compare with other GT40s?
The speed is similar but it is very different in terms of handling. We thought we thought we knew what a GT40 was like but this car is different.
What’s the secret to driving a GT40 quickly around Goodwood?
You have to wrestle it round! Goodwood is a peculiar track with its undulations and little crests, which unload the car in different ways. You have to get the car to handle as well as it can but (to do that) you have to make lots of compromises in your driving. It’s a challenge but it’s fun.
You at least know your way around here very well by now
My first time driving here was actually in 2011. But you’re right, I do know it very well. When I first came to England my home was in the Super Shell building! My Formula Ford race team was based there and I used to sleep there on a camp bed. Everything I had was spent on oil, tyres and spare parts.
It’s a special anniversary for the GT40 this year, what does the model mean to you?
It’s an icon. It is also a car I feel connected to. I drove Indy cars for A J Foyt in the States and he and Dan Gurney won Le Mans in the GT40. I drove Indycar for the Ford factory team and spent a lot of time at the proving ground at Dearborn. I also tested the 2004 Ford GT, that was a striking car.
Would you like to be racing the new 2016 Ford GT?
No not really – that’s not my job any more. But it’s a fantastic looking car and it will be interesting to see how it goes this year. I wish them well.
What’s Ford’s place in motor sport?
The company has done a lot in the sport and has a great motor sport heritage. The company has changed but it has always kept its footing in motor sport.
Are you going to be up the front in the Alan Mann Trophy race?
Who knows? We will see. If it’s a good weekend we should be somewhere near the front, but if we knew the result we wouldn’t need to race.
What’s coming up for you in the rest of the year?
I don’t plan. What comes up, comes up. More testing with McLaren for the road cars, and hoping for the Festival of Speed. What would I like to drive up the hill this year? I don’t know but I am sure we will pull something out of the hat…
Photography by Tom Shaxson